Greeneville City Schools announced Tuesday that athletics at Greeneville High School and Greeneville Middle School have been shut down after some athletes tested positive for COVID-19.

“Currently, out of an abundance of caution, athletics are shut down at GHS and GMS,” Greeneville Director of Schools Steve Starnes wrote in a statement Tuesday.

All sports except football, boys basketball, dance and cheerleading were to resume Wednesday, although some individuals may be held out, Starnes said.

Greeneville High School’s football season opener scheduled for Aug. 21 has been canceled, and the program will look for a replacement game to be scheduled Sept. 25, he said.

The measures came after the director was informed that a group of students had recently participated in a non-district event and had traveled together on a chartered bus, according to the statement. Some of those students became ill. Starnes said eight students have tested positive for COVID-19 and four others have exhibited symptoms or are awaiting test results.

“It is our hope and prayer that all students who have become ill or tested positive will experience no or minor symptoms and that they and their family members will remain healthy and safe,” Starnes stated.

The number of active coronavirus cases in Greene County as well as the tally since the pandemic began went up by five on Tuesday, according to the daily update from the Tennessee Department of Health. Active cases now total 232, and there have been 376 cases in the county since the pandemic began.

There were no new hospitalizations or deaths reported locally by the state on Tuesday. There have been 7,541 tests administered for the virus in Greene County and 139 people are listed as recovered.

Statewide, 1,805 new cases were reported Tuesday, bringing the total to 112,441. Twenty-five more people died from the virus in the 24-hour period covered in the report, bringing the death toll in Tennessee from the illness to 1,117. Listed as recovered are 73,259 and more than 1.5 million tests have been conducted for the virus.

NEXT STEPS

An investigation in conjunction with the local and regional health departments is ongoing to complete contact tracing and determine who may have been exposed to the virus by the students, Starnes stated.

The school system will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Tennessee Department of Health guidelines for the management of individuals who have been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19, he stated.

All students who have tested positive are required to isolate for 10 days from the onset of their symptoms of COVID-19 or from the date of their positive test if they are asymptomatic.

Additionally, anyone testing positive must be symptom free without the use of fever reducing medication, and their symptoms must be improving for at least 24 hours at the completion of the 10 day isolation before being allowed to return.

Students who are identified as close contacts will be required to quarantine for 14 days from the date of their last exposure to the positive or symptomatic individual. It is not necessary for an exposed student to obtain a COVID-19 test unless they develop COVID-19 symptoms, Starnes said. A negative COVID-19 test does not alter the quarantine period as a student is at risk of getting sick for up to 14 days after they last had contact with an infected person.

“As always, the health and well-being of our students and employees is at the forefront of every decision we make,” Starnes wrote. “During this global pandemic, we are working harder than ever to balance the overall needs of our students while ensuring that we are doing everything we can to keep them safe during the time they are entrusted to our care.”

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